Georgia’s 6th District Special Election Reaches Unprecedented Early Voting Numbers
Georgia’s 6th District Special Election to replace now Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price’s, House seat will be one for the history books. The money spent and the voter turnout for this election quickly turned unprecedented as this seat became a crucial battle between the Republican and Democrat parties. This closely watched election is taking place against the backdrop of a potential data breach of 6.5 million voter records maintained by the Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems. The center assists the Georgia Secretary of State and all 159 Georgia counties in administering election operations and voting machines deployed statewide.
The special election was originally held on April 18th, but with a 48% lead, Jon Ossoff (D) barely missed securing the 50% of votes needed to win the election. Without a 50% win, the runoff between Ossoff and Republican Candidate Karen Handel began. Now, two months later, Election Day has arrived once again on June 20.
Ossoff’s lead in the April election came as a shock to many as the 6th Congressional District has been “red” since 1979 – the longest continuous string of Republican representatives of any district in the state. While Ossoff certainly led in early voting in the April election, most of Handel’s voters turned out on election day. With that in mind, as well as how close the polls were then and now, many believe the 6th District seat could go to either candidate.
The voter turnout for this special election is unprecedented. At the close of polls for early voting on Friday, June 16, more than 140,300 people, whether at the polls or through absentee voting, had cast ballots for the runoff. With approximately 216,000 voters registered in the 6th district, that means over one-third of the district participated in early voting. The popularity of this election has clearly grown since the runoff began, as there was a 150% increase of early voters from the original April election.
The amount of money spent on this election may be some cause for the exceptionally high voter engagement in this race for House seat. This special election is officially the most expensive House race in not only Georgia history, but U.S. history! The previous record high for a House race was $29.6 million during a Palm Beach County, Florida in 2012 between Republican Allen West and Democrat Erin Patrick Murphy. However, this Georgia Special Election has soared past the total cost of race, with $29.7 million spent in TV advertisements alone. These numbers were released six weeks ago, and now with the election only a day away, more than $40 million in total campaign and independent expenditures has been spent in this unheard of special election.